SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — More than a million homeless students attend public schools in the U.S., but the highest percentage is right here in California.
Nine-year-old Unique York now has a place to live, but a year ago, she was one of more than 300,000 homeless kids in California public schools.
Unique’s mother Denise Anderson says her daughter was struggling in school and cried a lot.
“She just couldn’t get her mind set, focused to just do the three pages she needed to do for the night,” Anderson said.
More than 20 percent of the country’s homeless students are in California — the most of any state.
“It’s become more pressing and more urgent, especially in the city of San Francisco,” said San Francisco Unified School District Associate Superintendent Kevin Truitt. “We’ve had a 94 percent increase in homelessness since 2007.”
Jeff Kositsky, a homeless advocate in San Francisco, said compared to their peers, less than half of homeless students are at grade level for reading or math are likely to be held back a grade.
Kositsky’s nonprofit Hamilton Family Center helped Unique’s family find a home and has now set up rapid response teams with the San Francisco school district to help other families.
Having a home has changed Unique’s life. “I feel like I’m protected and like I can what I need to do now,” she said.
Unique’s mother says her daughter is more driven now because she can see a path to a brighter future.